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July 12, 2017

3 Mistakes Your Marketing Team is Probably Still Making

Mistakes are natural. Your team is going to make mistakes all the time. However, it’s not the mistakes that you recognize that will come back to bite you. It’s the mistakes that you don’t realize you’re making that have the biggest impact in the long run.

Stop Making These Mistakes ASAP

Psychologist Robert Maurer has studied mistakes and the people who make them for years. Over his career, he has come to the conclusion that there are three basic types of mistakes. He calls them “Goal, Soul, and Hole Mistakes.” Using these three categories, he’s created a model that allows people – and businesses – to understand when mistakes provide value and when they should be avoided at all costs.

Goal Mistakes are the mistakes that occur when we purposefully take on risk. In the context of marketing, a Goal Mistake would be what happens when you launch a bold marketing campaign and it totally flops. Yes, it’s a mistake, but you took on risk knowing that the mistake could occur and now you have the opportunity to learn from it.

Next, come Soul Mistakes. “These are typically the result of weaknesses in our skill set, character, or awareness,” Maurer explains. “These are mistakes we unintentionally make when we don’t know ourselves as well as we could. Soul Mistakes are usually much more serious, costly, and painful than Goal Mistakes.”

The final types of mistakes are Hole Mistakes. These are the worst of all and can bring on significant regret and major negative ramifications. You don’t make these mistakes very often and may only experience a couple of them in your lifetime or career.

“If you are human, you have likely made all three types of mistakes – Goal, Soul, and Hole – at some point along your way,” says Maurer. “Goal Mistakes we may want to encourage in order to continue our growth. Soul and Hole Mistakes are usually the most painful, and we may want to avoid these when possible.”

In terms of your marketing team, you’re going to make Goal Mistakes from time to time – but you’ll learn from them and they’ll actually foster growth in other areas. But are you making Soul (and possibly even Hole) Mistakes that are setting you up for failure?

Let’s check out two of the most common ones and discuss how you can get back on track as soon as possible.

1. Inaccurate Monthly Budgeting

Nothing will derail your team faster than a monthly budget that’s inaccurate or otherwise flawed. This is especially true in large organizations. According to a survey conducted by Gartner, companies spend an average of 12 percent of revenue on marketing. That number drops to 10 percent for organizations under $500 million in annual revenue (and continues to tail off for smaller companies). And while this makes sense, the problem is that most companies are paying for things they don’t need, largely because of an inaccurate and poorly developed budget.

So what does it take to develop a more accurate budget? Aaron Harrison of Element Three suggests doing away with a 12-month marketing plan that you develop at the beginning of the year and subsequently budget for. It’s impossible to accurately predict anything 12 months out, so why even try?

Instead, Harrison prefers to create a three-step strategy that: (1) Ties annual marketing KPIs to annual business goals. (2) Embraces innovation and flexibility in the marketing budget. (3) Uses 90-day cycles to evaluate and reset the original plan/budget.

2. Inefficient Meetings

Meetings are a pain in the rear. They take time to plan and execute. Plus, you rarely accomplish what you set out to accomplish at the beginning. People get sidetracked, attendees are frequently late, presenters don’t come prepared – you know the drill.

But what you probably don’t know is that consistently running inefficient meetings is holding your marketing team back. It’s wasting time and creating confusion. And while you may hope the solution is to cancel meetings altogether, the best course of action is to consciously focus on making meetings more efficient.

There’s lots of advice already out there on making physical meetings more efficient, but what about virtual meetings – which are quickly becoming more commonplace? Running an efficient virtual meeting starts with choosing the right software. There are lots of different options to choose from, but Dialpad’s UberConference is widely considered to be one of the best. It doesn’t require pin codes and downloads and has some robust screen sharing features that make communicating remotely a breeze – whether it’s from down the hall or across the globe.

But efficiency goes far beyond choosing the right platform. You have to treat them like actual meetings. For example, kill the notion of the mute button. As business executive Keith Ferrazzi explains, “In a co-located meeting, there are social norms: You don’t get up and walk around the room, not paying attention. Virtual meetings are no different: You don’t go on mute and leave the room to get something.”

The more focused you make your meetings, the more you’ll accomplish during and after the meeting. For marketing teams that suffer through frequent bouts of inefficiency, this can be a game changer.

3. Generic Content Creation

The amount of content that’s created and consumed on a daily basis is absolutely insane. According to this infographic, here’s what happens every single minute of every day: Facebook users like 4.1 million posts; 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube; and 347,222 tweets are sent. Furthermore, two million blog posts are written and published every day. It’s impossible to even wrap your mind around these numbers.

The irony is that as more content is created, the value of your content ultimately diminishes. Having said that, the need to create content increases. It’s a lose-lose situation. The mistake a lot of brands make is they produce a lot of cheap, generic content. What they don’t realize is that this generic content stands zero chance of rising above the noise.

You have to stop publishing generic content. It’s waste of everyone’s time and money. Instead, you need to invest in unique content that’s engaging and alluring. You need to create content that evokes your readers’ emotions.

Creating original content that’s engaging is challenging, which is why your marketing team needs to do a better job of identifying who your target readers are. Once you do this, you’ll be able to create hyper-focused content that actually addresses tangible and relevant pain points. In the end, this will enhance both your branding and lead generation efforts.

Give Your Marketing Team the Boost it Needs

Call them what you want, but you must avoid “Soul and Hole Mistakes” at all costs. Not only do they hurt you on the front end, but they leave lasting marks that won’t easily be absolved on the back end.

From a leadership and management perspective, it’s your duty to identify avoidable mistakes and lead your team away from them. Whether it’s something as critically important as budgeting or as seemingly insignificant as the vendors you choose for different automation tools, make sure you’re keeping a watchful eye on everything your team is doing on a daily basis. You can’t afford to let your guard down.


Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.